Patient Anonymity and Privacy

Human subjects have a right to privacy that should not be violated without informed consent. Identifying information or patient identifiers, including patient names, initials, date of birth, contacts, medical record numbers, hospital numbers, and geographical location, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, or pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and patients (or his/her parent or guardian) give written informed consent for publication. Efforts must be made by authors to at least mask or conceal any identifying information of the patients that appear in writing or within photograph.

Authors are obliged to explain to patients if revealing patients’ identity cannot be fully avoided, e.g., an image of an identifiable body part like the face has to be published in the report. Relevant identifying information to be published, e.g., images, must be shown to patients, and consent must be obtained to use this information in publications. If a patient dies, consent should be obtained from the next of kin or legal representatives. Submissions that include identifying patient information without appropriate patient consent will not be considered for publication.

Refer to ICMJE Privacy and Confidentiality guidelines for more information about patient anonymity and privacy.